A survey of local councils has revealed that under half of all businesses that could qualify for Small Business Rate Relief, and cut their bills by up to £2,500, have failed to apply for it.
Regions with the lowest take up include:
– North West with 26% of eligible businesses taking up relief
– London with 34% of eligible businesses taking up relief
– South East with 43% of eligible businesses taking up relief
– Midlands with 48% of eligible businesses taking up relief
– South West with 48% of eligible businesses taking up relief
– East with 57% of eligible businesses taking up relief
On average, just 48 percent of small businesses have applied for relief with around £400m left unclaimed in England. Council leaders have issued an urgent plea to businesses across the country to come forward and claim the money they are entitled to. Most recent figures show that there were 3,439 company liquidations, a rise of 17.6 percent on the previous year, in the first quarter of 2006 in England and Wales.
Council leaders are urging small businesses to contact their local council urgently to see how much tax relief they could be entitled to.
Chairman of the Local Government Association, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said:
"Small businesses up and down the country are facing immense difficulties keeping their heads above water. Hundreds of millions of pounds is sitting around waiting to be claimed by hard pressed bosses of small firms.
"When local businesses are facing rising costs, it is vital that they apply for the tax relief that they are entitled to.
"Many thousands of businesses are entitled to a tax rebate that could make the difference between business as usual and bust.
"Many of the shops that face the biggest cost increases are the very ones that the local community depends on. They have nothing to lose by contacting their local council as they could see their rates bill slashed by half."